Last night, we had the first Total Lunar Eclipse that North America has seen in quite a few years, and the last that we’re set to see for at least half a decade. To celebrate, Catherine and I drove a few miles north of town to watch the Eclipse from a back-country road. We headed out when the moon was about 25% red, and started driving. By the time we’d found a place to park, the moon was about 75% red.
We spent the next hour or so talking and watching the moon get progressively darker, until it was finally covered by the Earth. At this point it was pretty cold out there on that back country road, next to a drainage ditch was getting pretty cold, and we were getting pretty hungry, so we packed it up. Driving home as the moon slowly came back into view.
It was interesting to watch, as I’d not taken the opportunity to sit and watch the sky for many years. And the moon is fast becoming as interesting to us as it was back in the 1960s, when our country was racing to have a man set foot on the moon. NASA in preparation for colonization, in preparation for colonization. NASA seems committed to following President Bush’s years old proclamation that we needed to return to the Moon.
And it makes sense. The Moon is a great stepping spot for missions to Mars and deeper space. A permanent telescopes on the Moon would last longer, and be easier to maintain that Hubble and other research. For the first time in decades, the Moon is garnering a lot of attention.
Do I expect people will be as interested as they were when my parents were young? No. Most American’s view space flight and travel as routine, regardless of the amazing difficulty involved. Space flight in this country has had an enormous success rate. As terrible as the shuttle crashes of the last twenty years have been, the handful of astronauts we’ve lost, compared to the number we’ve sent and the hundreds of missions that have been sent speaks volumes to the immense skill and intelligence of the men and women involved in our national space program.